What’s the scarcest resource for any company?
There are classically one of three answers:
According to Michael Mankins and his colleagues at Bain, the answer is time.
Digging into a “decade’s worth of data” about the S&P 500 for HBR, they found that the companies who brought in the most revenue per employee did “30% better than their peers in return on invested capital, 40% better in operating margin, and 80% better in revenue growth.”
The key to revenue per employee? How they use their time.
The takeaway: The best companies are those that get the most out of their employees’ time.
Yet many don’t.
In a startling example, Mankins found that a single weekly executive committee meeting cost one large company 300,000 hours per year.
One status meeting costs 7,000 hours of time per year, just for the executives present.
But to prep for that meeting, 11 unit heads need to meet with the execs. That’s another 20,000 hours a year.
To prep for those, there’s 21 team meetings. That requires another 63,000 hours.
To prep for the 21 team meetings, there are 130 preparatory meetings. That’s another 210,00 hours.
When you take every person in the network’s time into account, you end up with just one meeting, costing the whole company 300,000 hours a year.
Not going to create lots of revenue per employee, eh?
No wonder an estimated $37 billion is lost every year to unproductive meetings.
So what can we do about it?
- Cut away the unproductive meetings.
- Stop listening to the loudest person in the room.
- Stop counting the time, start counting the tasks.
- Stop inviting so many people.
For explanations of the points above, plus more on escaping from the shackles of meeting madness, check out our handy guide.
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